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Alternative History

Red Hot Chili Peppers Albums Ranked: Funky Monks

Red Hot Chili Peppers Albums Ranked

Red Hot Chili Peppers is one of the biggest bands in alternative rock history. But it hasn’t always been easy. Line-up changes, delayed success and personal demons have all threatened to derail the California group. The payoff, however, involves RHCP albums and concerts being highly ranked worldwide.

The group started as an aggressive funk combo. But the undeniable musical ability of bassist Flea has meant that Red Hot Chili Peppers always welcomed new influences into their sound.

By the 1990s, the Chili Peppers were ready to use their considerable melodic gifts to earn worldwide hits and get their albums ranked as some of the best in global rock music.

Today I’ve looked back at Red Hot Chili Peppers’s discography, from their funky roots to their stadium-conquering pop-rock, and ranked the band’s albums from worst to best.

13. “The Red Hot Chili Peppers” (1984)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers was a punk band playing a hybrid of funk and metal. But their self-titled debut only scratched at the band’s potential.

“True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes” helped establish their funky, alternative rock sound. It was a moderate hit. But it suggested that RHCP was one of American music’s most cartoonish and, occasionally, inventive groups, Devo meets James Brown.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Albums Ranked

12. “Freaky Styley” (1985)

On “Freaky Styley,” The Red Hot Chili Peppers are paired with producer George Clinton and present themselves as successors to Parliament Funkadelic.

Just like Parliament, the Peppers are crazy, colourful, and a little bit kitschy. And just Clinton’s group, they can damn play. The interplay between bassist Flea and guitarist Hillel Slovak is particularly noteworthy.

Meanwhile, Anthony Kiedis raps and faux-sings provocative lyrics on songs like “Catholic School Girls Rule” and “Jungle Man.”

This was hardly a commercial home run, but it carved a particular niche for the Chili Peppers in the burgeoning alt-rock scene.

11. “Unlimited Love” (2022)

The news that John Frusciante had picked up his guitar once again and rejoined the Red Hot Chili Peppers dominated the stories surrounding “Unlimited Love.” The songs are, however, pleasant but not much different from any of their albums since the early 2000s.

For the most part, it feels as if Frusciante had never left the band. “Black Summer” feels like the loose pop-rock jam of “Stadium Arcadium.” On songs like “The Great Apes” or “Bastards of Light,” the band relies on the great interplay between the members.

However, the tracklisting, which includes 17 songs, could be easily confused with new-found inspiration. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are back, and that’s enough to please a lot of people. But they’re not relying on new tricks.

10. “The Getaway” (2016)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers approach the potential loss of relevance with a slightly more experimental album. But “The Getaway” doesn’t quite have the songs to give it staying power.

“The Getaway” is the first Chili Peppers album not to feature Rick Rubin in a long time. Instead, Danger Mouse is brought on board, and Klinghoffer is encouraged to be more daring. Despite all of this, the album mostly sounds tame and polite.

“Dark Necessities” features an exemplary Flea bassline and a pop-ready chorus. “Go Robot” suggests that RHCP wants to remain a cutting-edge dance-rock unit. And “Goodbye Angels” treads on the melancholy-filled territory of some of their biggest hits.

9. “I’m with You” (2011)

“I’m with You” finds the Red Hot Chili Peppers with a new guitarist but is otherwise business as usual for the pop-rock hitmakers.

Josh Klinghoffer, one of Frusciante’s proteges, takes over the role of lead guitarist. He does a fine job and injects well-needed energy. However, his sound and live presence never feel far removed from the man he’s replacing.

“The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” features signature funky guitar riffs and catchy Anthony Kiedis vocal grooves. It showed the fans that the band was still intent n making radio singles.

“Monarchy of Roses” and “Look Around” tread similar melodic territory. Both are part of a fine collection of songs. But the formula on which the band had drawn for so long feels a bit predictable.

8. “Return of the Dream Canteen” (2022)

“Return of the Dream Canteen” solidifies the notion that the RHCP aren’t merely returning but making a concentrated effort to add to their legacy. Like “Unlimited Love,” this is a pleasant album but not a groundbreaking release.

“Return of the Dream Canteen” contains another collection of 17 songs. Longtime fans will be impressed with the band’s ambition and willingness to deliver a lot of new material.

This record is a more colourful, energy-filled affair. “Tippa My Tongue” features a familiar funk-rock groove and vocal singalong. “Eddie” is a tribute to guitar superstar Eddie van Halen. And songs like “Peace and Love” or “Reach Out” pile on the good vibes.

Decades into their career, the core of RHCP’s fans are teenagers. There’s no reason they should be disappointed with this collection of songs, even though they offer little to the formulas the band has favoured throughout its existence.

7. “One Hot Minute” (1995)

“One Hot Minute” finds the Chili Peppers struggling to integrate new guitarist Dave Navarro while retaining their newfound fans. It’s an album with occasional flourishes of brilliance but one that doesn’t ever completely get off the ground.

While it’s underrated, “One Hot Minute” doesn’t exactly appeal to hardcore fans. You can blame part of that on Dave Navarro’s classic rock style. This had worked excellently with alt-rock superstars Jane’s Addiction. However, he isn’t exactly thrilled to copy Slovak or Frusciante’s funk-rock style.

“Aeroplane” featured upbeat energy and a catchy chorus that ensured “One Hot Minute” wouldn’t be a total commercial dud. Meanwhile, “My Friends” is one of the most emotional songs recorded by the band and touches upon Kiedis’ issues with substance abuse.

6. “Mother’s Milk” (1989)

The success of “Mother’s Milk” was well-earned and surprising, given the tragic circumstances accompanying its creation. The album turned the members of RHCP into international stars while retaining almost every ounce of funk-metal energy of their early records.

This is also the first album to include drummer Chad Smith and guitarist John Frusciante. Both would be pillars of the RHCP’s most famous line-up. However, on “Mother’s Milk,” they are still feeling their way.

“Knock Me Down” is a highlight and includes a poppy verse song by Frusciante. Meanwhile, “Higher Ground,” a cover of Stevie Wonder, gave the band the hit they craved for so long. In its wake, countless funk-rock bands appeared. The majority were far less impressive than the Kiedis and Flea’s long-running project.

5. “Stadium Arcadium” (2006)

“Stadium Arcadium” is Red Hot Chili Peppers’ most ambitious project. The double album may test the attention span of many but richly rewards those willing to dive deep into the songs here.

Once again, Rick Rubin’s influence can be heard throughout the album. After all, he has done the most to encourage the melodic interplay between Flea and Frusciante. This has been the backbone of the band’s hits since 1999 onward.

“Snow (Hey Oh)” features a soaring chorus and intricate guitar work. “Tell Me Baby” includes the group’s signature funky rhythms along with shiny pop hooks. Meanwhile, “Dani California” added classic rock to the funk formula, creating another hit for the band.

Stadium Arcadium” included some fine moments. But it was a long, tiresome affair at times. It kept the Chili Peppers top of the charts but also proved to be another turning point as Frusciante opted to leave the band once more.

4. “The Uplift Mofo Party Plan” (1987)

The original Red Hot Chili Peppers’ line-up crystallized their sound with “The Uplift Mofo Party Plan” and created a host of copy-cat bands in their wake.

What the “The Uplift Mofo Party Plan” does, more than anything, marries the band’s infectious energy to well-structured funk-rock songs.

Only this time, the songs have pop hooks to go along with the manic, cartoonish energy. “Me and My Friends” and “Fight Like a Brave” are catchy, fast, and memorable. They make great use of Anthony Kiedis’ ability as a party ringleader.

Tragically, this would also be the last album made by the original line-up. Hillel Slovak’s death and drummer Jack Irons’ decision to quit would send Flea and Kiedis back to the drawing board.

3. “By the Way” (2002)

With “By the Way,” the Chili Peppers give themselves free rein to experiment with sweet melodies and clever arrangements. This pop-rock experiment is largely a great success.

Yes, RHCP’s brand of funk-rock had created numerous imitators. With “By the Way,” they aren’t entirely turning their back on funk. Instead, the band’s looking to build Flea and Frusciante’s excellent capacity to create beautiful, melodic arrangements.

“The Zephyr Song” is a lightly psychedelic pop-rock pastiche. The title track, “By the Way,” splits the difference between hard funk riffs and Beatles-like melodies. And “Can’t Stop” finds Frusciante inventing new, memorable riffs seemingly out of thin air. The track would go on to be the band’s live opener for most of their carer from here onward.

2. “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” (1991)

With “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” Red Hot Chili Peppers made a giant leap forward and announced themselves as leaders of modern alternative rock.

Part of this success is producer Rick Rubin’s decision to dial down the band’s chaotic, punk-influenced sound. There’s more room for dynamism with songs like “Under the Bridge” or “Breaking the Girl.”

Funk tunes still play a major role. But, this time, Chad Smith’s grooves are front and center, and the sound is all cleaned up. It makes “Give It Away,” “Sir Psycho Sexy”, or “Suck My Kiss” sound instantly appealing to casual listeners.

The Chili Peppers deserved all of the success they got with “Blood Sugar Sex Magik.” Here, they captured both the manic energy of 80s independent rock and the alluring pop hooks of 90s MTV-backed music.

1. “Californication” (1999)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are known to be a band that defies the odds. While few expected John Frusciante’s return to the fold, even fewer believe that they had an album as good as “Californication” in them.

Like “Blood Sugar Sex Magik,” there’s no set formula here. Everything feels fresh. The band members, John Frusciante-especially, sound like they’re on a path of discovery. The fact that “Californication” captures the zeitgeist of late 90s rock seems almost accidental.

“Scar Tissue,” with its dreamy guitar melodies and introspective lyrics, defines the Chili Peppers’ new, almost spiritual direction. This won the band their second Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.

“Otherside” features a memorable guitar riff inspired by goth-rock and bands like The Cure. It became a hit single and a live staple for the band.

And the title track, “Californication,” is a love letter to their homeland and the myth of the rock star.

About author

Eduard Banulescu is a writer, blogger, and musician. As a content writer, Eduard has contributed to numerous websites and publications, including FootballCoin, Play2Earn, BeIN Crypto, Business2Community, NapoliSerieA, Extra Time Talk, Nitrogen Sports, Bavarian FootballWorks, etc. He has written a book about Nirvana, hosts a music podcasts, and writes weekly content about some of the best, new and old, alternative musicians. Eduard also runs and acts as editor-in-chief of the alternative rock music website Mr. Banulescu is also a musician, having played and recorded in various bands and as a solo artist.
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